Joanne Rowe – Senior Account Executive at Spreckley 

Social media has sculpted the landscape of the last decade and will continue to grow as a powerful force in the media, changing both how we are influenced and who does the influencing. I remember the days when my heroes were presenters on TV—but now, heroes wear social media capes. When it comes to consumer products, the blogger is the A-list celebrity whose endorsement means an increase in sales. The unboxing video (when a vlogger films themselves opening a new product and reviewing it in real-time) is one such example of this.

As I sit there watching a product being “unboxed” and tested by a fashion blogger, I wonder what ever happened to Bill Oddie and I wonder if any PRs ever reached out to him with the tenacity that we do for a popular vlogger to take our product out of its packaging on camera. We may grumble and fight for the nostalgia of Richard O’Brien and Jamie Theakston, but these Youtube stars possess more views than most of our beloved 90’s TV presenters all together. So getting a product in the hands of a vlogger, no matter how annoying they are, is a top hit for a consumer brand.

But whilst consumer facing brands have embraced this tactic for reaching their target audiences, B2B brands haven’t quite caught up. A recent study found that over half (55%) of B2C companies are running influencer campaigns, compared to only 15% of B2B companies. However, there is a trend of B2B marketing following developments in B2C marketing. Could social media influencers be the next big area of change?

Unfortunately, it seems that many brands are not quite in the know when it comes to understanding how valuable a YouTube vlog review can be. For example, popular UK lifestyle blogger Zoella has an incredible 12 million subscribers and a combined total of a billion views across her videos. In an unboxing video featuring organic cosmetic brand, LUSH, Zoella accrued nearly 3.5 million views by simply taking the products out of the packaging. Lifestyle and cosmetic brands are featured heavily on YouTube but tech brands have the potential to reach the dizzying heights of YouTube fame too. We envisage influencer campaigns becoming more and more commonplace in B2B brands’ marketing efforts.

The potential of getting products into the hands of these new digital influencers can mean a surge in popularity and sales for both consumer and B2B brands. There’s a YouTuber out there for everything, even B2B products that business leaders may be interested in hearing about, and there are good examples of B2B social media influencers emerging. Mark Russinovich, CTO of Microsoft Azure has over 65,000 followers on Twitter and regularly posts on cloud topics. He ranks number two in the global power 100 influencer list on cloud computing and should feature in any influencer campaign targeting this area of IT.

Cultivating relationships with relevant influencers is also an investment for any future product you may release, along with ensuring a good review if you offer products as a freebie. Most of these “made-at-home” stars are happy with free stock in return for singing your praises, but beware, some veteran vloggers are now the new form of celebrity armed with an agent, a PO box and a rates card.

We’re living in an age where an endorsement from traditional sources just won’t cut it. Business leaders are using different forms of communication and interact with their peers in new ways on social media. These changes set the foundation for taking many B2C influence tactics and adopting them for the business world.